What’s a Tweet?

The most common question I get about Twitter is “What is it?”  Here’s the scoop…my definition of Twitter is “Blogging for people twitterwith ADD”.  Seriously, twitter is great for people with short attention spans. It is a fast and easy way to push a message to tons of people all at once.  Twitter let’s you send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are posts of up to 140 characters that appear on your profile – known as your “tweet feed”.  Twitter has a language all its own…posts are tweets, the action of posting is called “tweeting”, people who tweet are called “tweeps” (not Twits) and it goes on and on.  Language aside…Twitter has grown like crazy and provides an interesting opportunity for businesses.

Because of its growth, Twitter is a great place to network, build your brand and go prospecting for new clients.  You can actually have a very intelligent conversation in 140 characters or less…plus, people find you and check out your profile, decide to follow-you and you don’t even know it.  They just think you’re interesting, or are interested in the same stuff they are, so they follow you.  The question is how to make yourself stand out from the zillions of other businesses pushing their message.

The thing is, in order for Twitter to work, to get yourself to stand out, it is a significant investment of time.  When you’re first starting out, it takes a while to build a following, to follow the right people yourself, and to make yourself known in the right groups.  Now some of you wanted to know how to do this social media stuff without adding more things to your to do list.  The short answer is that you can’t.  It is another thing to do.  However, if you know that it is going to attract customers and generate revenue then maybe you can trade off some of the other things you’re doing that aren’t helping you reach new customers, or generate revenue.  It is a trade-off, and that is why knowing your objectives and understanding your audience up front is so important.

Anyway, here is how to get started:

When you setup your profile – think carefully about your username, especially if you are struggling with the “My name or my Company name” thing.  If you’re an independent professional then you might want to use your name.  Use your company name if you want to build your brand and you have others representing you.  Your profile on Twitter is completely search engine indexed, which means that all the words you use are very important.  Think of each word as a keyword and make sure it matters to the audience you’re targeting.

My favorite feature of Twitter is definitely the Chats.  Now Chats are not a traditional “feature” but they are the most beneficial aspect of the platform for most business owners and entrepreneurs. This is how you make yourself stand out – get yourself known by your target audience. The way to prospect and network is to go where your prospects hang out…remember?  There are chats on Twitter about every topic you can think of.  They are usually hosted by someone who is an acknowledged expert on the topic on Twitter, they are usually at a scheduled time.  To find the different chats – a great list has been created.  I’ll include the link in the follow-up email.  Chatters track their conversations using hashtags (#) followed by the name of the chat, for example #smallbizchat.

At a specific time, folks start tweeting using the # and then you can follow the discussion by searching on the #word.  These discussions are a great place to build yor credibility, and to make an impression with your target audience.  Anpther warning…on Twitter you have to be part of the conversation or it won’t work.  You have to post tweets that are interesting.  You need to respond to other peoples tweets by either replying or retweeting.  The difference between a reply and a retweet is that when you reply to someone’s tweet – their followers see it along with yours – a great way to get added visibility.  If you retweet – you’re giving that person visibility to your followers – it is a compliment to be retweeted.  You should Reply and Retweet frequently so that you are part of the conversation.

Please remember, not everyone needs to be on Twitter.  If you know that a large group of your target audience is active on Twitter, jump on and start tweeting.  If you target a group that is not active on Twitter, then why on earth would you spend time even thinking about it, unless you’re trying to expand your audience – which brings us back to your business objective once again.

Seth’s at it again (thank goodness)

I admit it. I’m a Seth Godin fan. He’s a really smart guy, who doesn’t take himself too seriously, who is willing to take chances and take credit whether it works or not. He’s the kind of person I’d like to chat with at a cocktail party – although I hate cocktail parties.

Seth’s latest endeavor is a creative little e-book called “What Matters Now“. He is giving it away; asking people to email it to friends, post it on their blogs and tweet about it. I’m doing all three.

The idea is to ask yourself what matters to you, and then make plans to think about and do things that matter throughout the year. Seth asked a group of well-known individuals, big thinkers and generally cool people to tell him “what matters now” to them. The e-book is a collection of their thoughts. PLUS, it is a brilliant marketing device, of course. Many of the contributors have books coming out in 2010. This gives them an opportunity to promote their new works in an unassuming way. PLUS, there are well placed statements, I hesitate to call them ads, for a very worthy group called “Room to Read”.

So in a nutshell, Seth has given us a tons of great ideas to think about, allowed people to promote themselves and their works, and given visibility to a worthy cause. We should all aim so high.